Doctors Within Borders: Medical Missions Close to Home

courtesy of flickr user _nash (creative commons)

From the Triological Society combined sections meeting in Orlando, FL

Every month I write a column for Internal Medicine News called World Wide Med, in which I interview a doctor who has practiced medicine overseas. These docs usually go to underserved areas, often holding clinics in tents, huts, or under trees, with minimal resources. For an upcoming issue, I hope to feature the experiences of some doctors who have been to Haiti to provide medical care in the wake of last month’s earthquake.

At the Triological Society’s poster reception last night, I noticed a poster titled “Doctors Within Borders: The Potential Benefit of Otolaryngology ‘Medical Missions at Home.’”

The point of the poster was to show the distribution of otolaryngologists in seven relatively rural southeastern states. The authors suggested that academic centers could sponsor outreach clinics in rural areas, and otolaryngologists would spend a certain amount of time treating patients in these clinics, follow the model for medical missions used by international outreach groups in underserved areas.

To quote the poster: “Many academic otolaryngology departments and other community organizations already host periodic community clinic days, or even local mobile otolaryngology clinics, and expanding such efforts into a regularly scheduled clinic could further increase the availability of otolaryngology services to those in need.”

Access to specialty medical care is a problem in much of the United States, and I think this is a potentially great idea that could be adopted not only by otolaryngology, but by other medical specialties. Maybe it’s not quite as cool to tell your colleagues that you did a medical mission tour of duty in Alabama instead of Uganda, but on the other hand, maybe it is.

— Heidi Splete (@hsplete on twitter)

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Filed under Family Medicine, Health Policy, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Practice Trends, Primary care, Uncategorized

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